What The Papers Said

A round-up of Sunday business stories
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The Independent Online
t The Post Office and Littlewoods have emerged as the leading challengers to Camelot for the contract to run the National Lottery from 2001. A spokeswoman confirmed that the Post Office was looking at bidding, but said it had not yet made a definite decision.

Speculation that other contenders would join the bidding, including United News & Media, Ladbroke, Carlton and Virgin, has been quashed.

t Punch Taverns, the privately-owned pub group, is preparing to trump Whitbread's pounds 2.5bn bid for 3,600 pubs being sold by Allied Domecq, the drinks and pubs company. Punch, backed by the US investment houses Bankers Trust and Morgan Stanley, believes it can better Whitbread's bid price in a move that would create the country's biggest pub landlord and allow a stock market flotation.

t Phillips & Drew, the under-performing fund management group, has been hit by a "rogue trader" scandal in which a former director lost pounds 20m of his colleagues' personal money by placing disastrous bets on the stock market.

t Deutsche Telekom is poised to launch a pounds 10bn bid for One2One, the British mobile phone company jointly owned by Cable & Wireless and MediaOne of the US. The recently privatised German telecoms giant is expected to lodge a formal offer with Merrill Lynch, the US investment bank, in the next few days.

It is thought that the German company's decision to push ahead with a bid has been influenced by increasing doubts about prospects for its pounds 50bn merger with Telecom Italia.

t South African Breweries, the beer group that listed on the London Stock Exchange and joined the FTSE 100 earlier this year, has approached Danone, the French food group, about a pounds 7.5bn merger with Kronenbourg, its beer business.

t Crest, the electronic settlement system for the London Stock Exchange, will this week announce an alliance with its German counterpart in a move that will slash the costs of buying German equities for British investors. The link will allow investors to settle trades in German equities using Crest, starting in September.

t Makers of two leading continental lagers look set to take a major stake in a newly independent Whitbread Beer Company under proposals to split the 257-year-old UK brewer from its parent. Heineken of the Netherlands and Interbrew, the Belgian maker of Stella Artois, are likely to back the independent brewer.

t Talks on Friday failed to boost ScottishPower's $4.7bn bid for PacifiCorp, the US electricity company. Earlier in the week the bid was dealt a possibly fatal blow when analysts at the Oregon state utility commission urged regulators to reject it. t The Government is to axe the pounds 1bn Pathway project to computerise social security payments through the Post Office. An announcement is expected within weeks after the Treasury and Benefits Agency joined forces to oppose continuation of the system. The system has so far been funded almost entirely by ICL, the computer services group, which has invested pounds 200m in the project.

t An pounds 2.7bn bid to prevent Whitbread buying 3,600 pubs from Allied Domecq is being planned by former Pizza-Express boss Hugh Osmond. Mr Osmond is in talks with business partner Roger Myers and financial backers to work out how much their company, Punch Taverns, can offer.

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